Broad Scope of Family Medicine Appealing

This essay was written for the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine's Integrated Medical School and Family Medicine Residency Program (TIP), a transitional fourth year medical school experience that continues into residency.

by Riley Torreano

We sat for a moment in the solemn silence of the dictation room. A cup of coffee cooled in my hands, its aroma opposing the sterile, antiseptic smell of the hospital floor. Our patient was an 86-year-old farmhand who’d been beating the odds with multiple pelvic and rib fractures. His recovery had gone remarkably well, but suddenly increasing oxygen demands had necessitated his transfer to the Intensive Care Unit overnight. On the monitor in front of us our suspicions were displayed with a disconcerting clarity. “Aspiration pneumonia,” the senior resident whispered, her voice a verdict in the silent room. “Let’s go talk to him.” Questions filled my mind, demanding explanations for the worrisome change in his clinical picture. And there, at the forefront of my thoughts, was a cold awareness that our patient might not survive after all.

Through the past week, I’d come to understand him as a man of sharp mind and gruff character. A man possessed by an unrelenting desire to regain his health. I was stunned by the grim transformation he had made in such a short period of time. Somehow, his lean, muscular frame had withered overnight, reducing him into the fragile, ancient figure in the bed ahead of me. The stalwart attitude that had propelled his recovery had vanished, replaced instead with a newfound vulnerability. His telemetry tapped rapidly overhead, audibly sounding his anxiety at our approach.

The resident and I sat with him for a long time that evening. She placed her hand on his as she discussed his radiology results, leaning in close to hear his voice through the oxygen mask on his face. She spoke with practiced grace, navigating the complex emotions of the room, giving only truth, but also offering hope and encouragement with her words. I came to understand our patient on a deeper level through our conversation that evening. I learned that his brusque demeanor masked a caring, loving great-grandfather who’d been disheartened by his loss of independence and terrified by the prospect of his own mortality.

I left the hospital that night changed by what I’d seen.

I realized that it is our actions in these challenging circumstances that define our character as healthcare professionals. I appreciated how the resident had sensitively communicated the bad news, competently crafted her plan, built trust with her words, and consoled with her presence. I respected that she saw and cared for him as a whole person. I understood in that moment that she was the type of provider I someday hope to become. It was an endorsement for the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program more powerful than any advertisement could ever be.

The broad scope of Family Medicine has always appealed to me, and learning alongside the residents here has served as an excellent preview into the exceptional education they receive in internal medicine, obstetrics, pediatrics, and other disciplines. Over the past year I have been fortunate to also interact with several physician graduates of the Marquette Family Medicine Residency, and their praise of the program has been unanimous. I’ve come to respect the great character and culture of medicine here, and it has firmly solidified my interest and commitment to The Integrated Program. Together, these programs would offer me a superb educational experience, providing the necessary preparation to deliver outstanding, comprehensive care to patients with a wide variety of clinical ailments throughout the Upper Peninsula.

The Integrated Program is an incredible opportunity to bridge my fourth year of medical school with the beginning of the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program. Taking on additional training in the Family Medicine residency clinic through my final year of medical school and attending residency didactics each week will be valuable to me in refining my clinical skills, transitioning into residency, and preparing me to step into the role of that senior resident. It is with The Integrated Program in mind that I am pursuing fourth year experiences in Emergency Medicine, Sports Medicine, Otolaryngology, and with multiple Family Medicine practices. These local electives will help me to best assimilate into the Marquette healthcare community, and will complement my training in The Integrated Program.

Coming home to the Upper Peninsula to complete my medical education has been a wonderful blessing for my wife, daughter, and I. As natives of Negaunee, we have felt so fortunate to return to the comfort and support of our families, friends, and community. We have always had strong attachments to the Upper Peninsula, and it is our hope that we can remain here permanently to raise our daughter and to grow as a family. It has been a tremendous honor to study medicine here, and to contribute to the healthcare of the individuals and families that I care most deeply about.

In the coming years I also hope to grow in my role as a medical professional here in Marquette. I am eager to advance in my clinical responsibilities, and I look forward to the opportunity to build robust relationships with my future patients that are defined in terms of years, not hours or days. The U.P. is a truly unique area, one that is filled with spectacular people and a rich heritage. In the Upper Peninsula, I am home. I am where I want to be and where I hope to make my career in Family Medicine. I envision The Integrated Program and the Family Medicine Residency as the ideal pathway to achieving these goals, and I hope to continue their tradition of providing excellent primary care services across the U.P. It is with great passion that I pursue a career in Family Medicine, and it is with great trust that I place my future in these programs. Through The Integrated Program, I am confident that I can become a positive contribution to the Family Medicine Residency, and a physician worthy of this amazing community.


(July 2015)